What happened to free expression?

Where has liberty of expression gone? Was it slain at Stanford? Was it harried away at Harvard? Crucified in church? Condemned by Conservative pressure groups? Struck down in the street? Tolerance appears to be a forgotten virtue; are we back in the era when the world was flat?

It is deplorable to read ever more frequently, about people being upbraided for speaking their minds. During this last election campaign anyone who dared speak their mind risked being hauled over the coals; it is like the inquisition all over again. And it is not just
conservatives who risk harassment.

A good example is what happened to this top-grade gunsmith. Dan Cooper, founder of Cooper Arms of Montana, long-time member of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and staunch Republican was sacked for supporting Obama after thousands of irate emails and phone calls engulfed the office threatening to never buy the company's guns again. Things have gone too far when citizens are criticized (read censured) for their political beliefs; one could expect that in Zimbabwe or under Muslim rule but not in the United States.

Not everyone is herd orientated; some prefer to follow their own thinking. To be reviled for disloyalty to one's party seems totally unwarranted. Why does one have to be slavishly loyal to his or her party? Why can't one vote as one wishes and not as one is expected? Isn't it far better in the long run to be loyal to one's country's interests, rather than loyal to some party interest? That may be the advantage of being an Independent, one can vote any way one wishes without being unfaithful to a political party.

This narrow-mindedness among neo-political henchmen and the bigotry, so often based on ambiguous, rather than empirical evidence that it breeds, is sickening our society, creating a plague of hate over the land. When party supporters hostile to an opposition candidate cry, "Kill the traitor, kill the terrorist" without restraint, all human decorum, all decency vanishes and mob conduct threatens to prevail that could well lead to physical violence. It is one thing to engage the public, another to enrage it. That sort of conduct has in the past bred such carnage as Kristallnact of 1938 (the prelude to the holocaust) and the more recent Tutsi massacre of Rwanda.

The sharp edge of cynicism has penetrated our society so deeply that individuals don't recognize any longer how their liberty is being threatened by the silent encroachment of such obsessive views as the Politically Correct movement, environmental fanatics, extremist groups, anti-whatever lobbyists and other pressure groups who hold real power to disrupt one's life by way of modern communications. Awareness is the first defense against extremism. It is time to make use of it to heal the wounds against freedom of expression.

The following quotes, relative to this issue, are worth contemplation:

"Let me now warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of the party."

"There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law." 

"There are two good things in life, freedom of thought and freedom of action."

"Like all weak men he laid an exaggerated stress on not changing one's mind."

The first one is by George Washington; the next is by Abraham Lincoln and the last two by William Somerset Maugham.
Where has liberty of expression gone? Was it slain at Stanford? Was it harried away at Harvard? Crucified in church? Condemned by Conservative pressure groups? Struck down in the street? Tolerance appears to be a forgotten virtue; are we back in the era when the world was flat?

It is deplorable to read ever more frequently, about people being upbraided for speaking their minds. During this last election campaign anyone who dared speak their mind risked being hauled over the coals; it is like the inquisition all over again. And it is not just
conservatives who risk harassment.

A good example is what happened to this top-grade gunsmith. Dan Cooper, founder of Cooper Arms of Montana, long-time member of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and staunch Republican was sacked for supporting Obama after thousands of irate emails and phone calls engulfed the office threatening to never buy the company's guns again. Things have gone too far when citizens are criticized (read censured) for their political beliefs; one could expect that in Zimbabwe or under Muslim rule but not in the United States.

Not everyone is herd orientated; some prefer to follow their own thinking. To be reviled for disloyalty to one's party seems totally unwarranted. Why does one have to be slavishly loyal to his or her party? Why can't one vote as one wishes and not as one is expected? Isn't it far better in the long run to be loyal to one's country's interests, rather than loyal to some party interest? That may be the advantage of being an Independent, one can vote any way one wishes without being unfaithful to a political party.

This narrow-mindedness among neo-political henchmen and the bigotry, so often based on ambiguous, rather than empirical evidence that it breeds, is sickening our society, creating a plague of hate over the land. When party supporters hostile to an opposition candidate cry, "Kill the traitor, kill the terrorist" without restraint, all human decorum, all decency vanishes and mob conduct threatens to prevail that could well lead to physical violence. It is one thing to engage the public, another to enrage it. That sort of conduct has in the past bred such carnage as Kristallnact of 1938 (the prelude to the holocaust) and the more recent Tutsi massacre of Rwanda.

The sharp edge of cynicism has penetrated our society so deeply that individuals don't recognize any longer how their liberty is being threatened by the silent encroachment of such obsessive views as the Politically Correct movement, environmental fanatics, extremist groups, anti-whatever lobbyists and other pressure groups who hold real power to disrupt one's life by way of modern communications. Awareness is the first defense against extremism. It is time to make use of it to heal the wounds against freedom of expression.

The following quotes, relative to this issue, are worth contemplation:

"Let me now warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of the party."

"There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law." 

"There are two good things in life, freedom of thought and freedom of action."

"Like all weak men he laid an exaggerated stress on not changing one's mind."

The first one is by George Washington; the next is by Abraham Lincoln and the last two by William Somerset Maugham.